Not every book we read and loved this year came from the New Shelf. Here are some of our favorite reads in 2011 that were published in 2010 or earlier. To see our favorite new books of 2011, follow this link.
Angie, Circulation - The Magicians by Lev Grossman
This fantasy novel is the coming-of-age for a sarcastic, sardonic, and flippant young man who finds that dreams sometimes do come true. The audio book brings the characters vividly to life.
Amy, Youth Services - Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
A true story about the daughter of the king of Morocco's closest aide. In the 70's, her father was accused of trying to assassinate the king, and their family was imprisoned for two decades. Such a good book.
Lisa, Circulation - The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The characters and their intricate relationships, the rich descriptions of the merging Civil Rights movement, and the style of the writing all make The Help my favorite book of 2011. The book was both uplifting and entertaining, as well as shocking and heartbreaking at times. The character of Skeeter shows a determination that is inspiring, as she navigates her new role as a college graduate in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, who sees that change in necessary and inevitable. The Help is a page-turner, and tells a story that needs to be told.
Michelle, Circulation - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
I read this story about the great runner Louis Zamperini's WWII experience as a POW in a Japanese camp to my Dad, who was also a WWII veteran and flyer. Dad did not see action but could really relate to all of the descriptions of the planes and being in the military. He and I both had tears in our eyes as we read of the courage and spirit these POWs displayed. Though they may have been "unbroken", many of the men (boys) came back permanently damaged in ways most of us can not imagine. It was a beautiful story made even more special to me having shared it with my dad.
Brooke, IT - Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
The story line was very detailed, in a fictional landscape. I love to read books about strong independent women. Paksenarrion overcomes great odds, and you are constantly growing with her as she becomes a Paladin.
Sarah, Adult Services - Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
A Jane Austen inspired romance with a literal touch of magic. Not too serious, or too dark, it was the perfect escape from the stresses of the Real World.
Andrew, Adult Services - Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
This is a bit of a cheat, because while I did read this book this year it was maybe the fourth time I'd read it. Fifth Business is a novel crammed full of saints, stage magicians, and Jungian archetypes. Davies's clear and unpretentious prose keeps to book from getting bogged down by its heaps of larger-than-life ideas.
Michelle, Circulation - Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Ok so I'm jumping on the Dragon Tattoo band wagon. After the first 75-100 pages of the first book I was completely sucked in. Sometimes the narrative got a bit detailed for me and I found myself skimming to get to the action, but I usually didn't have to skim for long because there was more action right around the corner. I found the vigilante justice to be a guilty pleasure since it was balanced by the fact that there was a price to be paid for all the characters actions, both good and bad.
Amy, Youth Services - The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
A book about zombies, but in a way that's compelling to read about. This series would make a great movie.